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SI: Nene will be 58th-best player next season

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With Nene on the floor last season, Washington defended at a top-three level (98.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) — a remarkable accomplishment even within the context of the team’s already surprising defensive success. His lateral speed and ability to challenge quicker players provided one of the pillars of the Wizards’ coverage. That he brings that caliber of defense along with a bevy of offensive skills makes him quite valuable — noticeably more so than his basic counting stats suggest. Last year was a down season for Nene due to his gradual recovery from a previous foot injury, but when healthy his touch and quickness allow him to thrive in a variety of functions. The lack of a singular strength sometimes leads him to float around the court rather than attack, but his skills can be channeled in so many different ways as to stem some of the impact of that drifting. Nene can play high and low, as scorer or facilitator. That’s enough to make him one of the more complete big men in the league, and worthy choice at this stage in our ranking.

Sports Illustrated is counting down their Top 100 players of 2014. Nene comes in at No. 58, with the blurb written by Rob Mahoney. Bradley Beal was one of the toughest omissions, while John Wall is somewhere in the top 100, which will be released later in the week.
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